CristinaSleep It Off

Label:ZE Records – ZEREC.CD12
CD, Album, Reissue, Remastered, Digipak
Genre:Electronic, Rock
Style:Leftfield, Electro, Pop Rock, Disco


1What's A Girl To Do3:30
2Ticket To The Tropics
TrumpetMarcus Belgrave
Written-ByCristina, Doug Fieger
3The Lie Of Love
Written-ByBarry Reynolds, Cristina
4Quicksand Lovers3:16
5Rage & Fascination
Synthesizer [Roland]Chris Ewen*
Written-ByBen Brierley, Cristina, J.Mavety*
6Ballad Of Immoral Earnings
Arranged By, Vocals [Male Vocals]Ben Brierley
Written-ByBertolt Brecht, Kurt Weil*
7She Can't Say That Anymore
8Blue Money
Bass, Lead GuitarDoug Fieger
SaxophoneDavid Was, James Chance
Written-ByVan Morrison
9Don't Mutilate My Mink
Written-ByCristina, Don Was
10He Dines Out On Death
Written-ByBen Brierley, Cristina
Bonus Tracks
Written-ByDavid Was, Don Was
12Deb Behind Bars
Written-ByBen Brierley, Cristina
13Things Fall Apart
Written-ByCristina, David Was, Don Was
14When U Were Mine
Instruments [All], ProducerRobert Palmer
15Deb Behind Bars (Alternate Version)
Written-ByBen Brierley, Cristina
16You Rented A Space
Instruments [All], ProducerRobert Palmer
Written-ByCristina, Robert Palmer

Companies, etc.



Issued in a digipak with clear tray and a 16-page booklet.

Tracks 11 - 16 are bonus tracks:
11, 12 & 15 - Demos from "Sleep It Off" album sessions, produced in Detroit by Don Was.
13 - Taken from "A Christmas Record" © 1981, produced in Detroit by Don Was.
14 & 16 - Demos from the Compass Point Studios sessions, recorded in Nassau, Bahamas, 1981.

Produced in Detroit.
Recorded 1984 at Soundsuite Studios.
N.Y.C. overdubs recorded at Mediasound.
Originally mastered at Masterdisk, N.Y.C.
Remastered 2004 at South Factory.
Original sound recording made by ZE Records © 1981-1984. This selection ℗ & © 2004 ZE Records.

"Things Fall Apart" is dedicated to the late Lizzy Mercier Descloux, my chere copine in adversity ... In loving memory of her talent, her courage, and her kindness. Cristina

Made in U.E.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Barcode: 5413356655728
  • Rights Society: SACEM SACD SDRM SCAM
  • Matrix / Runout: KDG FR -015877
  • Mastering SID Code: IFPI L373
  • Mould SID Code: IFPI 5711

Other Versions (5 of 11)

View All
Title (Format)LabelCat#CountryYear
Sleep It Off (LP, Album)Mercury, Mercury814 980-1 M-1, 422-814 980-1 M-1US1984
New Submission
Sleep It Off (Cassette, Album)Mercury422 814-980-4 M-1US1984
New Submission
Sleep It Off (LP, Album, Promo)Mercury25PP-121Japan1984
New Submission
Sleep It Off (LP, Album, Numbered)Mercury, Mercury814 980-1 M-1, 422-814 980-1 M-1US1984
New Submission
Sleep It Off (LP, Album)Mercury25PP-121Japan1984


  • postpunkmonk's avatar
    Having been primed for Cristina-worship after hearing her brilliant “Things Fall Apart” from the Ze Christmas Album, I waited several years before the NYC chanteuse made her next move. The switch from Kid Creole to a then-unknown Don Was was a keeper after that fantastic single, thankfully. I became alerted to the existence of the second album after viewing a video on MTV for the new single “Ticket To The Tropics” one of the four times that they probably played it! I was on that platter as soon as it made the record store scene. I was gifted with ten songs of incredible venom and verve utterly magnificent in their thematic coherence.

    The album posited a world where nihilistic socialites hobnobbed with rent boys who weren’t too sure about their sexual orientation but ultimately followed the money. A world where everyone was either a pimp or a prostitute and what passed for grace in this fallen world depended on merely being aware of which side of the line you found yourself standing on. It was a potent cocktail of rock disco, Brecht, social climbing, and backbiting graced with lyrics as though Raymond Chandler had suddenly decided to write for Bette Davis fronting Was [Not Was]. In short, it’s an awe-inspiring album by a team of steely-eyed, flat-bodied professionals coalesced around the singular talent of Ms. Cristina Monet.

    Sure, sure. So she was the blue-blooded trophy wife of Michael Zilkha, the heir to the Mothercare fortune and owner/arch-dilletante of the brilliant and eclectic Ze Records label. Did she have strings pulled for her? Perhaps. But I can’t knock success such as this album! I won’t begrudge breeding, influence, and status when it results in art of this crackling potency! Of the ten songs on the original LP, seven of them were writ by the hand of Cristina working in tandem with songwriters responsible for the likes of albums by Was [Not Was] and Marianne Faithfull. As great as the music is, it’s Ms. Monet’s lyrics and delivery that push this album into singular territory. Even the three cover tunes here are chosen with laser accuracy ensuring that the thematic whole of the album is in perfect balance.

    I’ve written earlier about the opener “What’s A Girl To Do?” but words hardly give justice to the achievement that it represents. The music itself is a lurching funk/zydeco hybrid with its jaunty bounce at odds with the bracing lyrics and spitfire delivery of Cristina herself. Like the very best music, it creates a new world that you might not want to live in, but the glimpses you catch of it in glances prove to be so riveting and fascinating, that you can’t turn away. That the music sounds like the cheerful mutant offspring of Rockin’ Sidney and Compass Point-era Grace Jones doesn’t hurt.

    The one single from the album was “Ticket To The Tropics.” It’s what passed for light entertainment in Cristina’s world as she upbraided a gigolo who came close to taking her for a ride, but hadn’t known that he’d more than met his steely-eyed match in her. The urgent, New Wave bounce of this number was the closest to happiness that this album ever sounded since its stock-in-trade was emotional sturm und drang with music to match.

    After the blistering opening numbers, the intensity is dialed down for the mellow “Lie Of Love.” Musically, the song is not a million miles away from standard Maria Muldaur cabaret fare, but of course the lyrics are as cutting as only Cristina can be.

    “She needed his strength…
    He needed her fear.
    She’s scared of the dark…
    He’s scared that he’s queer.
    She only drinks wine…
    He prefers beer.” – Lie Of Love

    “Quicksand Lovers” marches to the drummer of a percussive, rhumba beat while Cristina offers worst case scenarios of love that leave the protagonists she is singing about damaged husks in the wake of predators who make a mockery of that emotion. After they move on to their next victim they’ll just grin. The album then reaches a baleful nadir with the haggard “Rage And Fascination. Co-writers Joe Mavety and Ben Brierley [both Marianne Faithfull co-writers] are in their sweet spot as Ms. Monet crafts an acidic screed directed at herself as much as her accomplice. The plodding beat has the finality of death as she unleashes the venomous lyrics below.

    “When you’re cruel, that’s not what keeps me here
    I’m not on a torch-song bender.
    You’re too bitchy for my notions of a man
    And your arms are far too slender.
    It’s just my admiration
    We do things very well.
    It takes a lot of know-how
    Making such a stylish hell.
    All that disdain spiked with mutual acclaim
    As we perfect our game,
    In rage and fascination
    Rage and fascination
    Rage and fascination
    As I watch you…” – Rage + Fascination

    Sardonic enough for you? She makes Warren Zevon seem like a choirboy! There were few writers pushing the emotional envelope as far as she did, but the music her co-writers bring to the table is every bit the equal to that found in the works from the same period by Marianne Faithfull and Grace Jones. In many cases, they’re the same people! The band had been culled from Ze’s excellent stable of large groups of the time: Was [Not Was], Kid Creole and The Coconuts, and even James Chance from James White + The Blacks! Jean-Paul Goode was drafted in to design the cover, so the minds at Ze knew what they were doing. So did Goode, who remade the cover the next year for Jones as "Slave To the Rhythm!"

    Beyond the superficial change in typography, the album’s three cover tunes are now grouped together like a suite as the contents have been dramatically resequenced around them. It says volumes that Brecht & Weill’s “Ballad Of Immoral Earnings” can follow fare like “Rage & Fascination” and sound lighter in comparison! On the Brecht number, she duets with Ben Brierley, who was actually Marianne Faithfull’s husband at the time. He doesn’t sing so much as sneer. A cover of the 1980 John Conlee [!] country hit “She Can’t Say That Any More” follows and in spite of it being a country song, it fits the singer and album like a glove. Brierley’s backing vocals are a great counterpoint to Cristina’s embittered emoting. I have to admit that this song is stuck in my mind for the last few days as I’ve extensively listened to this album [and haven’t tired of it at all].

    She hits a fevered peak on the next track, a pitch-black cover of Van Morrison’s jauntily cynical 1970 hit “Blue Money.” Here, Cristina doesn’t so much sing as snarl to accompany the bleak cabaret music that’s festooned with superficial jollity that barely conceals the contempt for the pimps and hustlers that are exploiting the woman making all of that blue money the song’s extolling. Boyfriends or pornographers. It’s all the same to the girl at the end of a lens… or a fist. Only this time it’s a woman who has appropriated the narrative from the male and Cristina spits out the lyrics like a hail of bullets! This stands as one of my favorite covers of all time as Cristina takes the song places Van Morrison was simply incapable of doing. This is brilliant art, feminism, and music. And the sweet if incongruous rockabilly solo by Doug Fieger [?!] in the middle eight didn’t hurt, either!

    The next song originally opened up the album and it’s a stunner. “Don’t Mutilate My Mink” sounds like a glimpse of what Midge Ure’s guitar would have sounded like fronting the Sex Pistols. Don’t laugh! Ure says it almost happened. This storming number takes no prisoners as Cristina expectorates the acid couplets in a fashion that shows her to be Grace Jones only real competition for sheer intimidation. The two chords wailing underneath her vocals pack a minimal, but focused, punch. Cristina’s deadpan delivery is a wonder to behold.

    “There’s snow on my stilletos
    I think it’s time we part
    This game you want to finish
    I don’t even want to start
    Don’t tell me that I’m frigid
    Don’t try to make me think
    I’ll do just fine without you
    Don’t mutilate my mink.” – Don’t Mutilate My Mink

    Then the album eases up the tension for a sucker gut punch that ends the original album on a powerfully Quixotic note. What acoustic folk ballad ever had lyrics like this? I can’t help but quote the entire song because I am still in awe at the achievement here 28 years later.

    He Dines Out On Death

    “How could she do it?
    There’s nothing to it
    A fistful of pills in a foreign hotel
    She left a note calling him
    Heartless and ruthless
    And wishing him well, wishing him well….

    Now he dines out on death.

    “How could she do it?
    Can I live through it?”
    In this week’s chic restaurant
    He touches the hand
    Of a vapid-eyed girl who once put sweet lips to it
    She says, “I understand, oh, I understand….”

    Now he dines out on death.

    “How could she do it?
    Let’s help him live through it”
    Say the New York hostesses
    “He takes it so well
    He lends such distinction to her self-extinction
    Let’s throw him a party, he must be in hell….”

    Now he dines out on death.” – He Dines Out On Death

    Following the murmuring crowd at the end of “He Dines Out On Death,” the program of bonus material added to the CD re-issue of “Sleep It Off” begins. Given that the artist spent over a score of years following this recording without setting foot in a studio again, the fact that five of the six bonus tracks are previously unheard is a true cause for celebration. That none of them do anything to diminish the artist’s legacy but in fact serve to enhance it, is nothing short of miraculous.

    “Smile” had reached the public earlier on 1983’s Was [Not Was] opus, “Born To Laugh At Tornados,” as sung by The Knack’s Doug Feiger. Here, it would have partnered with “Ticket To The Tropics” as a lighter moment in the program. It’s an old producer’s trick to foist one of their songs on an album to increase their take on the job with some extra royalties, but really, Don Was already had plenty of co-writing credits here. This song, while great, was merely sarcastic …and Cristina was packing much more powerful ammo here. It didn’t quite pack the wallop that the majority of the material did. It did, however, point to a delightful road not taken, where Cristina might have appeared on later Was [Not Was] albums as a guest vocalist when they were in need of an injection of some real venom.

    For a singer and writer who knew from her Bertolt Brecht, you could hardly get further down the Brechtian scale than Cristina did with “Deb Behind Bars.” It manages to sound every inch like a lost Brecht + Weill song given a production in this version, as it would have gotten in the Weimar Republic with just acoustic guitar, bass, xylophone, and metronomic rim hits. This particular song sounds like nothing else in Cristina’s body of work. Her declamatory vocals sound perfectly at home in this construction since Cristina is more properly a song stylist rather than singer.

    The song “Things Fall Apart,” which was my introduction to Cristina follows. It was taken from the iconic “Ze Christmas Record.” The version here was from the 1982 version of the “Ze Christmas Album” that has the alternate final verse about “catching a cab back to her flat.” The song was the first union of Cristina and the production of Don Was, and it sounds incredible. But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Cristina and Was would necessarily work on what was her next album. Between cutting this single, she decamped to Compass Point Studios in Jamaica. But sounding like Grace Jones wasn’t the goal.

    Cristina was also paired with Robert Palmer who was coming into his New Wave period having released the excellent “Looking For Clues” and in the process of moving toward the quirky electro-funk of “Pride.” With Palmer playing all of the instrument and producing, the resulting New Wave cover of Prince’s “When You Were Mine” feels like a lost DEVO production as viewed through a fun-house mirror. The song gets many more frissons of tension for being sung by a woman and the singer herself applauded the “decadent, Gidget-goes-trisexual” vibe” in the CD’s liner notes.

    When the “alternate version” of “Deb Behind Bars” appears, it could hardly be more unlike the tentative first version just two songs previously. The arrangement here is an astonishing metal-cum-reggae number with an underlying guitar skank line joined in by some Priest-like bludgeoning riffola during the vehement chorus. The song sounds like it would have been right at home on “Sleep It Off” and Cristina’s delivery here was as powerful as it was on her electric cover of “Blue Money” on the album. Except that there were even stronger songs to take its place on the album, hence its appearance here.

    One more number from the Palmer sessions closes out the extended program on the reissued CD. “You Rented A Space” sounds for all the world like a lost music bed from Palmer’s “Pride” album, with evasive programmed drumbox rhythms interlacing and percolating through the proceedings while being heavily seasoned with stabs of synths. It really makes me think that Palmer should have tried to do a Todd Rundgren and play/produce everything on his own albums since the results were so engagingly left field and appealing. “You Rented A Space [in my heart]” was Cristina adopting a florid Southern Belle persona for the song and the resulting recording was another intriguing road less taken for her brief career arc.

    Having these recordings reach my ears decades later was like receiving an especially welcome gift. For all of the 80s and 90s, it seemed as if no one else had remembered the audacity of Ms. Monet. This changed in 2003 with the wonderful Ladytron raising her profile when they included the most vital “What’s A Girl To Do” on their “Softcore Jukebox” mix CD. This CD appeared the next year along with a renewed presence of Ze Records on the web, now making all of that gold available for purchase again. Thankfully.



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